Gamers level up their reo Māori

By James Perry

E-gaming is growing in popularity and Arepa Gamers Club of Wellington is using its growth to foster te reo Māori. 

Porirua was full with gamers and buzzing with te reo Māori this weekend. 

Tākaro 2018 is an event organised by Arepa Gamers Club and Porirua City Council to promote Māori Language Week.  Richard Busby (Te Rarawa) said they expect around 300 people to show up throughout the course of the day.

"This is the first event of its kind where you are seeing gamers play, but we're teaching them about kupu as well," says Mokena Tumarirere, branch manager of Arepa Gamers Club.

Busby says, "Every year languages are slowly dying out over all the Pacific regions so why not start with our own and make it grow bigger, into something where we can encourage and put a good spin on what te reo is and how we can use it every day."

The event encourages gamers to use te reo Paki, the common language used by reo speaking gamers.  Prizes are up for grabs throughout  the day. 
One young gamer said one her favorite phrases was 'I wini ahau,' which means 'I won'.  Another says he liked to encourage others by saying "ka pai" when someone did something great in a game. 

Other common sayings were "tākaro anō" which means to play again.  Others used full phrases such as 'Kaua e mate wheke, okea ururoatia,' or 'don't give up like an octopus does, rather keep going like a hammerhead shark does'.

Arepa Gamers Club is not all about providing space for gamers to play, they hope to inspire their communities to pursue their goals, whatever, or wherever they are. 

Busby says, "While other places are like internet cafes where people just come in and play, we're trying to engage people in better learning skills, trying to give them better opportunities for the future, and then also trying to connect them to other opportunities both overseas and locally."

Learning while you play, or playing while you learn is one way to keep a language alive.